Outstanding Officer of the Year 2011: Lillian Burke and Rachel Thomas

The Outstanding Officer of the Year Award is presented to the Venturer who, in the view of the advisors, has most demonstrated leadership, service and spirit while serving as a Venturing officer.

Now normally this is a tough choice to make.  We often have two presidents during the school year.  Our crew has a legacy of a deep leadership bench.  And then we annually have officers leading the Venturing Officers Association.

In short, competition for this award is fierce.  And sometimes it becomes impossible to pick a single winner.  In those rare occasions, we award this honor to two individuals.  This is one of those years.  Please help me congratulate this year’s winners, Lillian Burke and Rachel Thomas.

There is a lot of justice in selecting these two ladies.  Rachel chose Lillian as her second-in-command as president and Lillian returned the favor and selected Rachel to be troop guide.  They have long been buddies on our outings, including a trip to Florida Sea Base in 2008.

But these are two very different women and talented leaders.

Rachel came to us four years ago and spent her first year much as Carly, silent and watching.  She eventually plugged in and was elected twice as crew secretary.  Then her ambition took hold and she ran for first vice president against a seasoned and extremely gifted officer and won.  Not content, she asked for permission to run for the same office at the same time with the VOA and won.  She subsequently ran for president.

Her track record as an officer is a rare history of no defeats.  I’ll speak more about her later but the reason she is standing here is the same one that earned her the growth award and the Outstanding Crew Member Award last year.  She feels passionately about her leadership and Venturing.  She is one of the most skilled leaders I have ever seen in communication.  Her enthusiasm never fails.  She motivates the crew and makes any event fun and special.

And less known has been her work training others.   She is one of the few who has completed all three levels of advanced leadership training offered by Venturing and has trained other Venturers in each course and did an outstanding job in each.  Her constantly work for Venturing inside the crew and outside is a key reason she was awarded the national Venturing Leadership Award earlier this year.

Lillian has earned this award after serving in the shadow of two very high-profile ladies in the crew for years.  One was Rachel.  Lillian served as her first vice president.  But before that she was known as Christine’s younger sister.  Christine is a former two-term president of the crew and two-term recipient of the Crew Member of the Year.  Lillian, by the way, has four other sisters and is the youngest.  So she is used to waiting in the wings.

Last year she earned the growth award because her maturity was quite extraordinary.  Her development this year as a leader has been no less special to watch.  Several adults have privately told me how impressed they are with her leadership.

Lillian is here tonight not because of her older sister or Rachel but because she has done such an outstanding job as a leader.  While she will tell you that I bombard her with messages regularly, I never really worry about matters with her at the helm.  She often initiates the conversation with me about problems she sees ahead or planning that needs to get completed.

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